CHRISTINE ROBINSON, Republican
BIRTHPLACE: Lewiston, N.Y. (Buffalo/Niagara Falls area)
FAMILY: Married to husband Eric for 11 years; three children, ages 8, 7, and 4
EDUCATION: Juris Doctor, University of Miami; Bachelor of Science, Niagara University
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Former prosecutor, law practice in small business and family law, former county planning commissioner, former trustee with MCC/State College of Florida, various boards and non-profit volunteering.
FUN FACT: I can mix mud (mortar). While growing up, I would occasionally be a laborer for my family’s masonry construction business.
What is your position on spending tax dollars to subsidize private business?
I support business incentives to expand local businesses and to lure industry to the county.
Explain how giving some businesses tax breaks and money in exchange for job creation is morally justified when many longtime, taxpaying Sarasota County businesses have never received any government funding?
Sarasota County has a well-earned, decades-old reputation of being anti-business in local and statewide business arenas. When local businesses are seeking to expand and need to move, or when new businesses are seeking to relocate, we have a difficult time getting a seat at the table for even a discussion about staying or relocating here. In the short term, these incentives get us that seat while we change the way we do business in Sarasota County.
According to the 2011 Sarasota County Citizen’s Survey conducted by the USF Florida Institute of Government, 73% of citizens support business incentives and tax breaks to create jobs, diversify our industry, and broaden our tax base. Business incentives help us to overcome our anti-business reputation and give us the ability to compete with other counties. While streamlining our regulations is necessary for a long-term solution, in the short term, incentives help us to attract businesses who would ignore us for our anti-business reputation.
What steps would you recommend to improve the economic and business climate in Sarasota County?
I will continue to actively engage business and industry organizations in policy decisions while at the same time watch for burdensome regulations that do little to improve quality of life. I will continue to look for opportunities to use incentives instead of regulation to achieve goals.
What is your philosophy on the role of the Sarasota County Commission and Sarasota County government?
Overall, I believe that the Sarasota County Commission and county government should meet its obligations pursuant to the Florida Constitution, Florida statutes and the county charter, but it should give priority to protecting its citizens. It should plan well, but exercise restraint in regulation. Most of all, county government should treat its people with respect.
What is your philosophy on taxation? Are you willing to take the pledge of the Americans for Tax Reform not to increase taxes if you are elected?
This pledge was designed and written to apply to Congress. My philosophy is well known that I am strongly opposed to tax increases.
Sarasota County over the past decade has purchased thousands of acres of land for preservation. Will you support purchasing more land in the future, and if so, why is being Sarasota County’s largest landowner a proper role for county government?
I support purchasing very, very small parcels or donut holes to complete the connectivity of what we have, but my concern remains in the ability to be good stewards of the lands we own. We should not just be prioritizing needs, but actually properly caring for the lands. I would not support the purchase of new large tracts as we do not have the finances to maintain what we have now in the most responsible way.
What is your view of population growth and its effects on the county’s economy and quality of life?
I believe that proper planning can cause population growth to have a good effect on the county’s economy and quality of life. Benefits include broadening our tax base and diversifying our economy. Preparing the infrastructure with connective roads and county services will remain vital to making sure population growth is an asset.
Where do you think county government could become more efficient and save tax dollars?
I believe that we could make more efforts to collaborate with other government entities and consolidate functions. We just began discussions with the school board to collaborate on opening its playgrounds and facilities after school hours to the public instead of building new ones. W began discussions on fleet maintenance and repair as well. October 1 marked the beginning of joint fleet maintenance with the Town of Longboat Key. These discussions need to continue.
County Administrator Randall Reid recently attributed the purchasing scandal to privatizing. What is your position on the county privatizing services?
I am for privatization of services done in a responsible way. I do not believe it was the privatizing that caused the purchasing problems, it was the way in which it was done and administrated.
What is your position on renovating Siesta Key beach — borrow millions now while interest rates are low or stay on track to complete the project over several years?
I do not believe that we should be encumbering surtax dollars with borrowing until we resolve the way we pay for the Emergency Operations Center and the emergency radio communications system. If we borrow, safety should be the priority. I also believe that the Siesta Key Beach project renovations should be prioritized. Those amenities that are least necessary should wait until we have the funding for them.
If elected, what do you see as your top three priorities?
1) Capitalize on the improvement of the economy and encourage the creation of jobs;
2) Improve the business climate by decreasing bureaucracy and streamlining government;
3) Continue to exercise restraint in budgeting and spending.
What is your vision for Sarasota County?
Thirty years from now, I want to be surrounded by my grandchildren. I want my kids to love Sarasota County enough to come back and live and raise their families after college. But more important I am striving for an environment where they never leave to begin with. I want Sarasota County to have the jobs they want, the financial stability to maintain a great quality of life, and an environment that will make their businesses flourish.
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Commission candidates questioned on hot-topic issues at forum
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12 French open house
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
12 Picture Day, Free for the kids
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
12 Children's World 50th birthday party
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
12 Dog Days of Summer Adoption Event
11:00 am - 3:00 pm